1 of 3 | Federal regulators on Wednesday settled a lawsuit with Amazon’s home security company Ring for $5.8 million for violating privacy laws by allowing employees to access videos thought to be private. File Photo by Friedmann Vogel/EPA-EFE
May 31 (UPI) -- Federal regulators on Wednesday settled a lawsuit with Amazon's home security company Ring for violating privacy laws by allowing employees to access videos thought to be private.
"Consumers are suffering, have suffered, and will continue to suffer substantial injury as a result of defendant's violations of the FTC Act," the Federal Trade Commission, which filed the lawsuit, said in a statement.
The proposed settlement would see Ring LLC repay customers $5.8 million in damages.
"Not only could every Ring employee and Ukraine-based third-party contractor access every customer's videos (all of which were stored unencrypted on Ring's network), but they could also readily download any customer's videos and then view, share, or disclose those videos at will," the complaint reads.
Prior to 2017, the company did not impose restrictions on employees' ability to download, save, or transfer videos of customers.
The complaint lists one case where a Ring employee "viewed thousands of video recordings belonging to at least 81 unique female users," while at the same time searching for cameras in "intimate" places, using search terms like "Master Bedroom."
"Ring's disregard for privacy and security exposed consumers to spying and harassment," Bureau of Consumer Protection director Samuel Levine said in the FTC statement Wednesday.
Amazon bought California-based Ring in February of 2018 for a reported $1 billion.
The company also Wednesday settled a separate suit brought on by the FTC for $25 million relating to its automated Alexa voice assistant service and children's privacy.
The complaint alleged the company did not properly delete data recorded by its home devices, violating parts of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
The settlement also requires the company to overhaul its deletion policies and procedures after saying Amazon "kept sensitive voice and geolocation data for years, and used it for its own purposes, while putting data at risk of harm from unnecessary access."
"Amazon's history of misleading parents, keeping children's recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents' deletion requests violated COPPA and sacrificed privacy for profits," Levine said in a separate statement.
"COPPA does not allow companies to keep children's data forever for any reason, and certainly not to train their algorithms."